Langdon & Emison has reached a $700,000 settlement with Americorp Xpress Carriers, a Texas-based trucking company that negligently hired a commercial driver with a criminal record, substantial driving convictions and history of drug use.
On May 24, 2014, plaintiff Donald Hagene was driving northbound on Interstate 57 in St. Clair County, Ill., when an Americorp Xpress tractor-trailer driven by Felipe Valadez impacted the rear driver’s-side panel of Mr. Hagene’s vehicle.
Upon impact, Mr. Hagene’s vehicle spun to the left, crashed into a sedan that drove ahead of the initial impact, and then deflected into the median where it impacted the concrete base of an overhead highway sign. Mr. Hagene suffered injuries to his neck and back. He had a preexisting low-back injury from a work-related incident that occurred in the late 1990s, which the crash exacerbated. Mr. Hagene eventually needed surgery.
Langdon & Emison successfully argued that Americorp was negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Valadez as a commercial driver. Mr. Valadez’s criminal file showed that he had prior felonies and had admitted using drugs during the same periods he drove as a commercial driver. Mr. Valadez testified that he intentionally omitted details about his criminal history from his employment application.
During the litigation, Americorp Xpress declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which placed a stay on the litigation. This created complexities that Langdon & Emison had to navigate to lift the stay to continue the litigation.
“Commercial trucking companies assume a significant responsibility to ensure the safety of the motoring public when, by the nature of their business, they put large vehicles on our roadways,” said Mark Emison, lead attorney for Langdon & Emison. “Americorp did not uphold its responsibility when it employed a dangerous driver with a history of prior accidents and driving violations, and our client paid the price.”